The information provided below is not legal advice and is intended for general information purposes only. For the most up to date information please see Work as a co-op student or intern on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
Updated: May 5, 2021
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Overview of co-op work permits
A co-op work permit is a document issued by IRCC that is required in order to engage in any mandatory work component that is part of a program of study in Canada.
If your program has a mandatory work component (paid or unpaid), then you will need to apply for and receive a valid co-op work permit before starting the work component (in addition to your required study permit).
As a temporary measure due to COVID-19, IRCC states: Students who are already in Canada, and have applied for a co-op work permit, may begin their co-op placement using their on-campus and off-campus work authorization, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements. See IRCC – Students – Work: COVID-19 program delivery for details.
A co-op work permit can only be used for work that is a mandatory component of your academic program. Your co-op work cannot be more than 50% of your study program, and you cannot choose to take any additional term(s) of co-op beyond what is required in order to complete your program.
See IRCC – Work as a co-op student or intern to learn if you may be eligible.
Note that you would also need to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) before starting to work if your program’s work component is paid.
How to apply for an initial co-op work permit
If you are accepted into a full-time program with a mandatory work component then this will be indicated in your Letter of Acceptance, which you will need to include with your application. There is no application fee for a co-op work permit.
To help prepare for your application, review the IRCC – Guide 5580 – Applying for a Work Permit – Student Guide – online application.
With an initial study permit application
We strongly recommend for you to apply for a co-op work permit along with your initial study permit application, using your Letter of Acceptance.
With a study permit extension application
If you require a study permit extension prior to your mandatory work component, then you may apply for a co-op work permit along with your study permit extension application, using either a valid Letter of Acceptance (if yours has not expired yet) or an International Confirmation of Enrolment Letter.
At the port of entry
If you do not apply for your co-op work permit along with your study permit application, you may be able to request a co-op work permit from a CBSA officer at the port of entry. You would need to show the co-op wording in your BCIT Letter of Acceptance or International Confirmation of Enrolment Letter in addition to other required documents when you enter Canada.
For a co-op work permit on its own
If you enter Canada and have not yet obtained a co-op work permit, you may use your valid Letter of Acceptance from BCIT to apply for a co-op work permit directly to IRCC. If your Letter of Acceptance has already expired, you will need to request an International Confirmation of Enrolment letter to use instead. Please be aware that processing times are considerably longer if you apply from within Canada after you receive your study permit. Depending on when your program’s work component takes place, this might cause you to not be able to successfully complete your program.
Understanding your co-op work permit
When you receive your co-op work permit, check that all of the details are correct and make note of the expiry date. The Employer name should be listed as “British Columbia Institute of Technology” or “BCIT.”
If you change schools and stay in a co-op program, you must apply for a new work permit. You won’t need to pay another application fee to change your co-op work permit conditions or for the new co-op work permit.
Visit IRCC – Co-op and internship programs for more details.
Extending your co-op work permit
The expiry date on your co-op work permit tells you when you have to stop engaging in work components of your academic program. If your co-op work permit will expire before you complete all of the mandatory work components of your program, you must apply to extend your co-op work permit.
If you gain entry to a competitive co-op the anticipated length of your program may be extended. In this case, make sure to state the month and year that you expect to complete your program in your International Confirmation of Enrolment letter request if you need to apply to extend your co-op work permit and/or study permit.
You may apply to extend your co-op work permit along with a study permit extension application by indicating that you also want to apply for a co-op work permit. If you do not need to extend your study permit, you can apply to extend your co-op work permit on its own. Either way, there is no fee to apply for extending a co-op work permit.
We suggest applying for a co-op work permit extension 5 months before your current co-op work permit will expire. It is important to note that you can’t extend your co-op work permit beyond your passport’s expiry date, so it may be a good idea to renew your passport first if it will expire soon.